Manga Bible (新約聖書 Shinyaku Seisho?) is a five volume manga series based on the Christian Bible created under the direction of the non-profit organization Next, a group formed by people from the manga industry. Though first published in English, the books are originally written in Japanese and each volume is illustrated by a Japanese manga artist. Each book is adapted from the Bible by Hidenori Kumai. The first two books were illustrated by manga-ka Kozumi Shinozawa, while the remaining three will be illustrated by a different artist. The first book in the series, Manga Messiah was published in 2006 and covered the four gospels of the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The Manga Bible series is the creation of Next, a non-profit organization created in 2006 to produce and distribution biblically-based manga series for distribution in a multitude of languages worldwide. Next was formed by Roald Lidal, general director of New Life League Japan, pulling together manga publishing and printing professionals from Japan, and includes Japanese manga-ka—artists and writers— and other professionals in the manga industry.
Lidal created the Manga Bible series in order to "reach children who might resist traditional Bible translations and never attend a church." When he first announced his vision, it was met with some derision, with other Christians feeling the books would be insulting to the gospel. Lidal was persistent, and continued his vision to produce the five book series, with three covering the Old Testament and two covering the New Testament portions of the Christian Bible.
Each book in the series is initially written in Japanese by Christian Japanese artists, then translated to additional languages and published by regional religious publishers. Each language edition is reviewed by members of regional bible societies before publication, to ensure accurate translation.
The first book of the series, Manga Messiah, was scripted by Hidenori Kumai and illustrated by Kozumi Shinozawa. Though initially written in Japanese, the English edition was published first, premiering in the United Kingdom and the Philippines in 2006. In North America, Tyndale House purchased the English rights for all the books in the series, publishing Manga Messiah in September 2007. COMIX35 acted as the English consultants for translating the Japanese editions into English. The Spanish language editions are being published by the American Bible Society. The Japanese language edition was published in Japan in February 2008.
</td></tr><tr style="text-align: center;"><td id="vol2">2</td><td style="text-align: left;">Manga Metamorphosis
Tsukawasareshi Monotachi (遣わされし者たち)</td><td>May 2008
ISBN 978-4-8202-4267-3</td><td>September 2008
ISBN 978-1-4143-1682-6</td></tr><tr style="vertical-align: top; border-bottom: 3px solid #CCF;"><td colspan="4">
</td></tr><tr style="text-align: center;"><td id="vol3">3</td><td style="text-align: left;">Manga Mutiny</td><td>—</td><td>September 2009</td></tr><tr style="vertical-align: top; border-bottom: 3px solid #CCF;"><td colspan="4">
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</td></tr><tr style="text-align: center;"><td id="vol5">5</td><td style="text-align: left;">Manga Messengers</td><td>—</td><td>—</td></tr><tr style="vertical-align: top; border-bottom: 3px solid #CCF;"><td colspan="4">
Before its creation, some Christians expressed concern that the Manga Bible series format would "cheapen the gospel." The first book of the series, Manga Messiah, received mixed reviews from critics. Matthew J. Brady of the website "Manga Life" found Manga Messiah to be "a fairly authentic manga," feeling it had an authentic manga background and styling, but showing Western-influences in its use of full-color pages and greater amounts of captioning and text. As a whole, he felt the book was a faithful adaptation of the gospels, but did note that some slight liberties taken with the story would "probably bother steadfast Christians". Comixology's Jason Thompson was less impressed, heavily criticizing the art of the book, referring to it as the "most basic kind of manga shorthand—awkward geometric faces with big eyes, big hair, exaggerated expressions" with "blandly attractive" main characters, "dorky caricatures" of old RPG characters used for the villains, and crudely drawn backgrounds. Both reviewers felt the book tried to include too much information, and that the authors used Jesus' Hebrew name "Yeshuah" in an attempt to make it more palatable to non-Christian readers. They also both criticized the book's occasional odd phrasing when key dialog was rewritten using modern English.
In an editorial piece, Bruce Wilson of the The Huffington Post attacked the book, repeatedly quoting an anonymous source who sent him a copy of it, and Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at Political Research Associates. The trio felt the manga contained extreme anti-Semitic views and was pushing for an idea of "objectifying Jews as non human". Berlet is quoting as stating that Manga Messiah is "A colorful comic training manual for motivating young leaders of the next pogrom against Jews. Not just offensive -- ghastly and horrific in content with a clear enemy scapegoat identified for venting apocalyptic religious bigotry." In a follow-up piece, Wilson himself claimed that "Manga Messiah depicts sinister, swarthy rabbis scheming with the devils and Jews laughing at and taunting Jesus as Christ is nailed to the cross. There are no "good" Jews depicted in the comic."
Christian reviewer Deirdre J. Good, of Ekklesia, rebuked the book for its removal of the tension between Jesus and his family and the removal of Judas from The Last Supper, suspecting that Japanese family values had been allowed to intrude upon the original text. She partially supports Wilson's assessment, feeling the depictions of the Pharisees were implausible and that "most depictions of Pharisees or other opponents are caricatures of unappealing people which become sterotypes [sic] by the time one has finished reading the book". As a whole, she felt it was too simplistic, even for a teenage audience.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Manga Bible series". Japan Bible Society. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Script error
- ↑ "About Next" (Flash). Next, Inc. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Script error
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 "NEXTmanga News". NEXT. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
- ↑ Aronson, Michael (2007-09-01). "PR: Manga Messiah and Bible". Retrieved 2008-09-08.
- ↑ "Manga Messiah". Tyndale House. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
- ↑ "Manga Metamorphosis". Tyndale House. Retrieved 2008-08-25.
- ↑ "Manga Mutiny". Tyndale House. Retrieved October 16, 2009.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Brady, Matthew (2007-09-01). "Manga Messiah". Manga Life. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
- ↑ Thompson, Jason (2008-03-21). "Manga Salad #4: The Manga Bible and Manga Messiah". Comixology. Retrieved 2008-09-08.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Wilson, Bruce (2008-05-29). "Bruce Wilson: Aimed at Children, Nationally Distributed Christian Comic Book Called a "Training Manual" For "The Next Pogrom Against Jews". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
- ↑ Wilson, Bruce (2008-06-12). "Bruce Wilson: Hagee Mass-Marketed Hitler's Favorite Conspiracy Theory". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2008-08-26.
- ↑ "Making Manga out of the Bible". Ekklesia. 2007-11-15. Retrieved 2008-08-26.